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September 21, 2007

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devilvet

All I can say is... buyer beware. A five year company with modest to more than modest success probably can't teach you anything other than already established truisms and that being in the right place at the right time is an excellent way to get ahead.

Mark

Disagree. Partial Comfort's amazing growth over the last five years is unparalleled. Time and time again, people that work with them emphasize that they have got their shit together. $300 to learn some of what they're doing right is a bargain.

No ethical breach. Good value.

August

On the contrary, this company (are we not mentioning their name for a reason?) is addressing a very serious need within the Indie community. There is a great deal of documented 'best practices' and hard data/theatre facts for theatres over the $50,000 annual budget mark, (courtesy in large part of my employer Theatre Communications Group) but very little parctices/data for theatres trying to get there. Also, with all due respect to devilvet, there's a hell of a lot more to five year survival in this city than established truisms and being in the right place. Questions of 501(c)3, development, marketing, press relations, union relations, building a board, building an audience and maintaining a healthy company are just the tip of a very large iceberg.
As to whether or not this company's experience re:those issues is worth the $300 cost, that seems to me more a question of practicality than morality. Certainly, the unnamed company in question has created a well-marketed, polished and artisticaly disciplined body of work in the past five years, and I would love to pick both their Artistic Director's brains for details on how that happened. But I probably won't shell out the $300 for it.

James

Not 100% sure how to answer this one. Offering classes is one tried-and-true way that companies make money (Vampire Cowboys offers a stage combat course and Stolen Chair offers Commedia Dell'Arte, clowning and puppetry courses). But of course, the companies I just mentioned offer classes for very specific things, taught by people who know what they’re doing. In other words, they’re not, “How To Make It” classes.

I’m not saying this class you’re talking about is a waste of time or money, or that it’s ethical or unethical. However, $300 seems a bit steep for learning a few “tricks of the trade,” but that’s just because there are a number of how-to books on publicity and development that cost $20 to $30, so I simply wonder if you’d genuinely get 80% more information (assuming you spend $60 on a book on each).

My company’s always talked about offering classes, but we never know for what (I mean, what would I teach? How to drink heavily at functions without throwing up on the host? I’d be a horrible “playwriting” teacher.).

August

Ah, the name is out! Another interesting sub-question is what theatre companies you would pay $300 to learn from. I've been very impressed with the rapid growth of companies like Edge, Red Bull and Keen (2001, 2003, 2001 respectively).

Joshua James

"(I mean, what would I teach? How to drink heavily at functions without throwing up on the host? "

I think I need that class!

Really, it's about context . . . who the company is, who the speakers are (I think Isaac is right to question that particular element) and have they done this before successfully.

I've met a couple of alleged writer / playwright gurus who really only do this to make money . . . and they haven't really done anything as writers, either . . .

I've done some private work with individuals as a mentor, but never gotten into a whole class thing, at least not yet . . . I've met a bunch of people who do, especially with screenplays, there are a lot of screenwriting groups . . . but it's absolutely dependent upon who's doing it, who's running the show and who's teaching . . .

Same for actors, there are many on-camera audition classes, which all cost about the same, or more . . . the ones you should take are the ones with good teachers and the ones to avoid at all costs are the sucky ones who simply want your money . . . the question is, of course . . . which one of these two categories does this company fall into?

And if you can't tell, maybe one should avoid it at all costs.

It's like the old poker saying. If you're sitting at a poker table and you don't know who the fish is . . . that means it's you.

freeman

I don't think it's unethical. It's really up to the individual who is shelling out $300 to do their homework about the company.

Abe Goldfarb

I call shenanigans on this company. It's the sort of behavior that destroys the sense of community off-off companies ought to have by introducing hierarchy (an attitude nastily present in some of their other fundraising activities). I believe in a certain meritocracy in theater, yes, but this has little to do with merit. It's a company that has an awful lot of money behind it taking more out of the hands of people who don't.

Fucking. Shenanigans.

RLewis

I got no problem with the group selling their wares, but if you think they're gonna give away their best funding secrets, etc, you're fooling yourself. There just aren't enough of 'em left.

Why not join ART/New York for a fraction of the price ($75?/yr) and learn more that you ever would in terms of long-term success (5 years is a blink)? And then you can apply for the Nancy Quinn Fund and get your early grant money (along with LMCC, it's everyone's first grants). I just served on the panel for this year's NQF, and wow, you can really tell who's learning from ART/NY and who's not.

There's also Fractured Atlas and The Field which also offer Booking workshops, health insurance, and Advocacy for the community, and more. Who am I leaving out?

I wish them luck, cuz there's a ton of ways to get this information for less than $300. It's not the info', it's whether you can make it yours, live with it, and not crack up over all the work that comes with the knowledge.

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